About shelters and pounds

All shelters and pounds must be registered and comply with the Code of Practice for the Management of Dogs and Cats in Shelters Dog and cat lying downand Pounds - Revision 1.

An animal shelter is an establishment that takes in and cares for lost, injured, stray or unowned dogs and cats.

Shelters are most commonly owned and managed by animal welfare organisations, for example:

  • the RSPCA Victoria
  • Cat Protection Society
  • The Lost Dogs' Home
  • Lort Smith Animal Hospital
  • Animal Aid Victoria

A council pound is an establishment that impounds and cares for lost, injured, stray and unowned dogs and cats. Pounds are either operated by the local council or by a contractor on behalf of council.

All shelters and pounds must be registered as a Domestic Animal Business with their local council and comply with the mandatory Code of Practice for the Management of Dogs and Cats in Shelters and Pounds - Revision 1.

Benefits of purchasing a pet from a shelter or pound

There are many advantages to purchasing a dog or cat (or another type of pet, such as a rabbit or guinea pig) from a registered shelter or pound.

  • Shelter and pound animals are reasonably priced, especially considering they are all vet checked, de-sexed, vaccinated, microchipped and wormed.
  • Animal shelters and pounds re-home dogs and cats of all ages and breed types so it is possible to choose an animal that suits your individual needs.
  • By purchasing a dog or cat from a shelter or pound you are reducing the number of excess animals in the community, and giving a home to an animal in need.
  • Shelters and pounds must comply with the Code. This means you are supporting an organisation that maintains high standards of management and care for their animals.
  • Adopting a mature dog or cat means that you do not have to go through the demanding stage of raising a puppy or kitten.
  • With a mature pet you have a good idea of the animal's temperament and you know the animal's adult size and coat type
  • Mature pets are often house-trained and may even have some other basic training.

People interested in purchasing a dog or cat from a shelter or pound should also read requirements for shelters and pounds.

Reunification of lost or stray animals

Dogs and cats being retrieved by owners from shelters or pounds must be microchipped and registered with their local Council before they're released from the pound facility.

Both shelters and pounds have the ability to rehome unwanted, unowned or unclaimed dogs and cats after a minimum mandatory quarantine period of 8 days.

It's compulsory for anyone who finds a stray animal to take them to or notify their local council as soon as possible after picking up the animal. This includes veterinarians and shelters who return lost animals directly to owners using the animal's microchip details.

Foster care

Many shelters, and some pounds, set up foster care agreements with members of the community. Foster care is regulated under the Domestic Animals Act 1994, and there are strict rules that all pounds, shelters and foster care individuals must follow. Foster care networks can be established under the provisions of the Domestic Animals Act 1994. Learn more about foster care.

Page last updated: 04 Jun 2020